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Yemen Civil War - 2013

During 2013 politically motivated killings by nonstate actors, including terrorist and insurgent groups, frequently occurred, and targeted killings of military, security, and government officials by those claiming affiliation with AQAP increased significantly during the year. On June 18, an explosive device detonated in Aden, killing the head of the military’s Southern Regional Command, Major General Salem Ali Qatan. He was the ranking officer in charge of the coordinated military and tribal attacks that drove AQAP and the affiliated Ansar al-Sharia militias from several southern strongholds during the spring and early summer of 2012. The number of assassinations involving gunmen on motorcycles also increased. For example, in July armed motorcyclists shot and killed Mohammed Fadhl Jubari, a prominent Hirak leader. The government reported persons on motorcycles killed 40 security officers by year’s end.

On December 5, AQAP claimed responsibility for launching a two-pronged attack on the Ministry of Defense in Sana’a, targeting the collocated military hospital. Reportedly, a car laden with explosives was used to gain entrance to the ministry compound, after which 12 gunmen entered in another vehicle and began firing on people indiscriminately. The reported death toll was 57 with more than 300 injured, with most of the victims civilians, hospital staff, and patients.

Nonstate actors targeted foreigners and those working for foreign diplomatic missions. In October unknown assailants killed a German embassy security officer in Sana’a, and in November two Belorussian contractors were gunned down by unknown assailants outside their hotel in Sana’a. Armed clashes broke out in northern governorates, including Sa’ada, al-Jawf, and Amran, between supporters of the Zaydi Shia Houthi (Ansar Allah) movement and supporters of both the Sunni Islamist Islah Party and the Salafi Rashad Party. Fighting between the groups resulted in the deaths of hundreds of combatants, according to media and local NGO reports. The fighting went largely unchecked as central government control in those areas remained weak. On May 25, the press reported that a bomber drove a car packed with explosives into a school during Friday prayers in al-Jawf Governorate and killed at least 12 persons.

There were fewer incidents during the year 2013 that resulted in large numbers of persons being killed, compared with the widespread violence of 2011. Clashes in and around Sana’a were sporadic and smaller in scale, with few fatalities. Targeted killings, however, increased during the year, usually directed at members of security organizations or foreign officials. In addition to the killings of security officials by drive-by motorcyclists, there were two bombings of military buses carrying recruits.

Conflicts between factions of the Zaydi Ansar Allah (Houthi) movement and their conservative Sunni Salafi adversaries periodically escalated. Tensions heightened in June after security forces fired on Houthis demonstrating outside the NSB in Sana’a, reportedly killing at least nine persons and wounding dozens. A suicide bomber subsequently detonated himself at a market in Houthi-controlled Sa’ada. Throughout July, Houthis clashed with supporters of the Islamist Islah and Rashad parties, apparently over competing efforts to control mosques. In September, Houthis and tribesmen loyal to the al-Ahmar family reached a short-lived cease-fire agreement, following clashes that left more than 60 dead in Amran alone.

Fighting resumed in October, and a presidential mediation committee was working in November to reduce tensions and reach a permanent agreement. Salafi sources asserted the area surrounding the Dammaj Institute (a center of Salafi teaching and military training) was under siege and heavy shelling by Houthis for several weeks. Houthis claimed Salafis were gathering Yemeni and foreign militants to attack the non-Sunni Zaydis of the region. Given the lack of foreign press and NGO presence in that region, data concerning deaths and other details of this conflict were unverifiable. Sa’ada residents reported, however, that the clashes resulted in dozens, possibly hundreds, of deaths through the year.

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Page last modified: 24-01-2015 19:09:02 ZULU